By Frank Rizzo
MIDDLETOWN August 21, 2001 Roches Garage of Callicoon won its 11th Neal B. Turfler Memorial Softball Tournament and first since 1999 on Sunday in Middletown.
No big deal, right?
Well, not quite.
This was special, said Scott Mosher of Wurtsboro, who pitched Roches over Grand Slam Auto in the championship game, 4-1.
First, Mosher explained, his team needed to redeem itself after a humiliating early exit at the 2000 edition of what is considered the tri-county areas unofficial modified-pitch softball championship tourney.
We were kind of embarrassed for ourselves last year, Mosher said. We knew we were better than that.
Then, Roches had to face dominating back-to-back pitchers in Gary Thomas of Copperfields (in the semifinal) and Darren Rea of defending champs Grand Slam in both the winners bracket and championship finals.
Gary and Darren are a level above everybody else, Mosher said. Personally, it was a major accomplishment to beat those caliber of players. Theyve played on national major championship teams.
Rea and Thomas are not just ringers brought in for the tourney, according to Mosher; they pitch regularly in the Middletown League.
In fact, Roches belongs to the Middletown as well as the Monticello League and is a combined 04 against both pitchers in regular season play.
In the losers bracket championship game Rea hurled a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts while Thomas yielded five hits and fanned 15 as Grand Slam won 2-1.
In the winners bracket semifinal, Mosher outdueled Thomas with a three-hitter, 3-2. Bill Tolli had an RBI and scored what turned out to be the winning run on a double by Jim Brush.
Merle Connors then downed Grand Slam 7-2 in the winners bracket final with a five-hitter. Joe Sottolano and Mike Finn homered and drove in two runs apiece to pace the Roches hit parade. Roches got 10 hits against Rea, who struck out eight.
In the championship game, Mosher tossed a six-hitter with five strikeouts and got help from Mike Yager and Paul Exner at Middletowns Fancher-Davidge Park.
Yager slammed a two-run homer in the fourth inning off Rea. Exner had an RBI single in the fifth and added a sac fly in the seventh.
Mosher went all the way for his third complete game of the tourney. Though Mosher expressed disappointment that he lost out to Rea for most valuable pitcher, he said he would have had to split the plaque sixteen different ways. It was a team effort.
We played like a team. There were no ego [problems], Mosher added. We played as one big happy family. Thats why the win meant more.
Roches Mike Finn was tabbed most valuable player after going 5-for-12 and slamming two homers.
Road to the Title
Roches began the tournament with a 13-1 rout of Lakewood Estates (Port Jervis/Glen Spey League).
Yeager hit two solo homers while Tolli went 3-for-3 and Exner added a three-run blast for Roches.
Connors then beat Gs West gate Inn of Middletown 7-2 in the quarterfinal. Tod Mosher went 2/4 while Exner again slammed a three-run homer.